A diet full of vegetables is a great way to pack your meals with fiber. From carrots, to broccoli, and legumes, keep reading to find out which vegetables to pick if you are looking to up your fiber intake.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend a daily fiber intake of around 25 grams (g) for adult women and 35 g for adult men. Unfortunately, most people don’t get anywhere near enough fiber from the food they eat.
Fiber is important for your gut, heart, and metabolic health. There are two different types: soluble and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber can help you feel full for longer after you eat, and it’s also good for blood sugar and cholesterol control. Insoluble fiber is important for your digestion and keeps your bowel movements regular.
Fiber also serves as food for the microorganisms in your gut, which are part of your gut microbiome. In fact, different types of bacteria have their own fiber preferences, just like we have our own favorite foods.
In this article, we’ll bring you 12 great high-fiber vegetables and tips on how to incorporate them into your diet.
Fiber serving: 3.08 g fiber per 1 cup
Carrots are in the same plant family as celery and parsnips, and they provide plenty of soluble fiber.
They’re also a particularly great source of plant compounds, like carotenoids and lutein.
Carotenoids can help to improve immune function and reduce your risk of heart disease, various cancers, and degenerative diseases. Lutein can help protect your eyes from degenerative diseases as you get older.
Fiber serving: 5.14 g fiber per 1 cup
Broccoli is part of the cabbage family, alongside kale and Brussels sprouts.
It’s an excellent source of soluble fiber for feeding your gut bugs. This cruciferous vegetable also contains high levels of sulforaphane, a plant compound that may lower your risk of chronic health conditions.
Fiber serving: 2 g fiber per two beets
Beets are root vegetables that provide both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Beetroot is also a good source of nitrates, which can help to widen your blood vessels and reduce blood pressure. This makes beets a useful sidekick in controlling your risk of heart disease.
However, juicing beets cuts out much of the insoluble fiber content, so eat these whole when you can.
Fiber serving: 2.86 g fiber per 1 cup
Cauliflower is a low-carb, highly nutritious member of the cabbage family. Its fiber content is mostly insoluble, but this usually increases during cooking.
Swap rice, steaks, and chicken wings for cauliflower to increase your fiber intake.
5. Bitter gourd
Fiber serving: 2.48 g fiber per 1 cup
Bitter gourd is a bitter-tasting tropical vine. Also known as bitter melon, bitter gourd is a low-calorie vegetable that provides a good amount of soluble fiber. This makes it useful for blood sugar control.
It’s also a source of several plant compounds, including the polyphenols catechin, epicatechin, chlorogenic acid, and gallic acid. These antioxidants protect your cells from damage and improve how your body processes fat.
If bitter vegetables aren’t your favorite flavor, try combining bitter gourd with other foods. It can lift the flavor of a smoothie and also has a distinctive twang when stir-fried with onion and garlic.
Fiber serving: 2.48 g fiber per 1 cup
Despite its appearance, eggplant is a member of the nightshade family, like tomatoes. Eggplant is a fiber all-rounder, providing the benefits of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Most of the soluble fiber is in the flesh, and the insoluble fiber is primarily in the skin.
For the greatest benefit, leave the skin on during cooking. Eggplant peels are also a particularly good source of a powerful type of antioxidant, anthocyanins. This is what gives eggplants their deep purple hue.
Antioxidants work against harmful compounds, called free radicals, to reduce your risk of chronic disease.
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7. Collard greens
Fiber serving: 7.6 g fiber per 1 cup
These leafy greens, like broccoli, are in the cabbage family and provide a similarly high amount of soluble fiber.
You can eat collards in the same way as kale, just make sure you wash it first to remove any grit. You can saute or steam them and have them as a side on their own, or add them to any meal as a leafy green.
8. Swiss chard
Fiber serving: 3.68 g fiber per 1 cup
Swiss chard is in the same family as beets, and it provides considerable soluble fiber content.
Chard is very versatile and can add a soluble fiber kick simply by throwing it into salads, soups, and stir-fries.
Fiber serving: 9.58 g fiber per 1 cup
Surprisingly, artichokes come from a thistle, so they’re actually the product of a flower. Artichoke hearts are buds that are removed from the plant before they mature. They provide a hearty amount of insoluble fiber to help your digestion.
They also provide two antioxidant plant compounds, cynarin and silymarin, which research suggests may be good for liver health.
Fiber serving: 3.63 g fiber per medium potato with skin
Potatoes are another versatile and low-cholesterol nightshade vegetable. They provide both types of fiber, with the skin alone adding 1.12 g of fiber to your daily intake.
However, not all forms of potatoes are created equal. It’s better to steam or bake them, and avoid adding too much salt. Keep the skin on if you’re looking for peak fiber content.
11. Brussels sprouts
Fiber serving: 4.06 g fiber per cup
Brussels sprouts are a member of the cabbage family and don’t need to exclusively feature during the holidays.
They have a pretty even split of soluble and insoluble fiber. Try them sliced in a coleslaw or a stir-fry.
Legumes include pods, seeds, or fruits of plants in the pea family. They are fantastic sources of soluble fiber and make great additions to salads, casseroles, dips, and curries.
chickpeas: 16.2 g per 1 cup
lentils: 15.6 g per 1 cup
black beans: 15 g per 1 cup
kidney beans: 13.1 g per 1 cup
peas: 4.48 g per 1 cup
peanuts: 2.41 g per 1 ounce
The benefits of a high-fiber diet
A high-fiber diet can have a range of positive effects on the body. This includes:
a healthy gut
more regular bowel movements
lower LDL cholesterol
good heart health
better blood sugar control
a lower risk of certain cancers, including colorectal, breast, and esophageal cancer
better weight management
When it comes to increasing your fiber intake, go slowly. Too much all at once can lead to constipation. Drink plenty of water and be active to help your body get used to it.
Fiber and the gut microbiome
The food you eat influences which bugs you have in your gut.
One of the main benefits of soluble fiber is its ability to nourish “good” gut bugs in your gut microbiome. The trillions of microbes that inhabit your gut have a huge impact on your overall health.
That’s why eating a variety of fiber is a good way to support your gut microbiome.
A more varied community that includes plenty of beneficial bacteria is important for your digestion, your immune system, and your long-term risk of chronic disease.
You can buy fiber in the form of supplements, but they often only give you one type of fiber, and they limit the benefits you’d otherwise get from eating it in foods. Unless a healthcare professional advises you to take fiber supplements, it’s best to get your fiber from food.
Most studies on the benefits of fiber for the microbiome have been performed on rodents, and so more research with human participants is needed to understand exactly how fiber benefits our guts.
Ultimately, the best high-fiber vegetables for your body will be unique to you.
ZOE runs the world’s largest nutrition science study of its kind, with over 20,000 participants so far. Our results show the positive effects of a gut-friendly diet on your health.
In fact, ZOE’s scientists have specifically identified 15 “good” and 15 “bad” gut bugs that are linked with better and poorer health outcomes.
With ZOE’s at-home test kit, you can find out exactly which of these bugs you currently have in your gut. Our personalized nutrition program gives you tailored advice for your gut health, including your individual “good booster” and “gut buster” foods.
Fiber is a crucial part of a healthy diet. A range of vegetables — including bitter gourd, artichokes, broccoli, and cauliflower — can help you meet your daily fiber requirement while benefiting from their other healthful properties.
Soluble and insoluble fiber both play different roles in your eating plan.
Insoluble fiber is important for your digestion, keeping constipation at bay, while soluble fiber helps to feed and balance your microbiome. Soluble fiber is also important for your blood sugar and blood fat control, and it reduces your risk of chronic disease.
Increasing your fiber intake is a great way to support your gut health.
For personalized nutrition advice, take our free quiz and find out how ZOE can help you reach your long-term health goals.
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